Vickii Cornborough calls time on England career after giving birth last summer

Vickii Cornborough won 75 England caps  (PA)
Vickii Cornborough won 75 England caps (PA)

England prop Vickii Cornborough has announced her retirement from international rugby, saying she does not feel mentally ready to return after giving birth to twins last summer.

The stalwart loosehead had been a pillar of solidity since making her Red Roses debut in 2015 and won 75 caps, starting the last two World Cup finals.

In her role as vice-chair of the Rugby Players’ Association, the 34-year-old front rower was instrumental in the creation of the Rugby Football Union’s updated maternity policy, which was introduced last year.

Cornborough gave birth to twin girls last July, and admitted that while physically able to return, calling time on her career was “the right thing to do”.

“I’m probably the strongest I’ve ever been, but I’m just not there yet mentally because having twins is really hard,” Cornborough told the BBC.

“Living off a couple of hours of sleep a night is not conducive to a high-performance pressure environment. Stepping away from the Red Roses and announcing my retirement is the right thing for me to do.

Vickii Cornborough won 75 England caps (Getty Images)
Vickii Cornborough won 75 England caps (Getty Images)

“It’s a big weight off my shoulders to finally admit it to myself and say I’m ready [to retire]. It’s a life-changing decision. It’s something I’m excited but nervous about because England has been my life for the last 10 years.”

The Harlequins prop’s final match in an England shirt was the World Cup final defeat to New Zealand in Auckland in the autumn of 2022. She and teammate Abbie Ward, who returned to international action in the opening game of the Six Nations after welcoming daughter Hallie last summer, were the first players to benefit from the RFU’s maternity policy.

Cornborough has also maintained a second career in the technology industry during her career.

She recently took part in cancer charity Macmillan’s Brave the Shave campaign, raising more than £5,000, in support of sister Sam, who was diagnosed with breast cancer last year.

“She had quite an aggressive form of cancer - she had to have a mastectomy followed by chemotherapy, radiotherapy, hormone therapy,” said Cornborough.

“She’s just completed chemo - she’s an absolute trooper. She was worried about losing her hair and losing her anonymity. I said: ‘Why don’t I lose my hair as well?’

“My hair used to be down to my waist. I’ve now sent it to the Little Princess Trust.”

Additional reporting by PA